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Gareth Russell

Russell, Gareth J.
Associate Professor, Chair, Biological Sciences
428H Central King Building
About Me

Gareth J. Russell, PhD, is an assistant professor in the department of biological sciences at New Jersey Institute of Technology whose research is driven in large part by an intense interest in how complex ecological systems work. This interest manifests itself in a variety of specific research activities. One such activity involves the colonial wading birds of south Florida, and of Everglades National Park in particular. There are two main themes. One is analysis of the wading bird distribution data collected by the systematic reconnaissance flights. Another interest is information-based statistics in ecology, likelihood and Bayesian methods for estimating survivorship and related curves, small-world and other network models as they apply to ecological systems.

Funding & Awards


  • External examiners’ special prize for undergraduate project.
  • Christopher Welch Scholarship for Graduate Studies in Zoology (declined in favour of a position at the University of Tennessee).


  • Charles Elton award from the Journal of Animal Ecology for best paper by a young author (1995).
  • Contract from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (UK) to the University of Tennessee (with Stuart L. Pimm as principal investigator), for research into the dynamics of small populations and communities with emphasis on prediction of times to extinction. £7000 ($10 500).
  • Chancellor’s Citation for Extraordinary Professional Promise (1996).
  • Science Alliance awards for excellence in research ($1000 in 1994, $3000 in 1996).
  • Science Alliance permanent stipend upgrade.
  • Numerous graduate teaching assistantships.


  • Postdoctoral research position, from a proposal submitted initially to NCEAS, then to CPB. Research involves the synthesis of population-level and community-level models of species appearance and disappearance, and development of improved methods for estimating times to extinction. Two years of postdoctoral salary plus travel allowance.
  • NCEAS Working Group Sampling Curves in Ecology: Theory and Application. With Michael McKinney of the University of Tennessee. $75,000.


  • Grant from the National Park Service to analyse the spatiotemporal dynamics of wading birds in Everglades National Park, using survey data from the last 10–15 years. With Stuart Pimm of the University of Tennessee. $50 000.
  • Grant from the National Park Service to analyse current and historical breeding data on wading birds in South Florida. With Stuart Pimm of the University of Tennessee. $100,000.
Research Experience


  • Macintosh hardware and software configuration; various software packages. In-depth knowledge of MATLAB and Mathematica.
  • Basic ArcGIS 8 skills (ESRI certified).
  • Markov chain probabilistic models, fitting by likelihood and non-linear least-squares, bootstrap methods for likelihood-ratio tests (G-test, logistic regression), rarefaction, information-based statistics (AIC, ICOMP).


  • Preliminary faunal survey of upland pools (‘lochans’) in the vicinity of Bienn Eighe, Western Highlands, Scotland.
  • Pitfall trapping, sweep-netting and hand collecting as part of a survey of spider assemblages in Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina, USA.
  • Mist-netting, banding and behavioural observations of endemic and introduced birds in upland cloud forest, Maui, Hawai´i, USA.
  • Mist-netting, banding and behavioural observations of the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritima mirabilis) in Everglades National Park, Florida, USA. Use of Global Positional System.


  • For Science, Ecology/Ecological Monographs, Journal of Animal Ecology, Conservation Biology, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Animal Conservation, Chapman & Hall.
Selected Publications

PIMM, S. L., J. M. DIAMOND, T. M. REED, G. J. RUSSELL & J. M. VERNER (1993) Times to extinction for small populations of large birds.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA90: 10871–10875.

CURNUTT, J., J. LOCKWOOD, H.-K. LUH, P. NOTT & G. RUSSELL (1994) Hotspots and species diversity. Nature367: 326–327.

SMITH, W. O. JR., & G. J. RUSSELL (1995) Phytoplankton biomass and nutrient distributions in the Amazon River plume: environmental correlates. Geo-Marine Letters15: 195–198.

RUSSELL, G. J., J. M. DIAMOND, S. L. PIMM & T. M. REED (1995) Centuries of turnover: community dynamics at three timescales.Journal of Animal Ecology64: 628–641.

PIMM, S. L., G. J. RUSSELL, J. L. GITTLEMAN & T. M. BROOKS (1995) The future of biodiversity.Science269: 347–350.

PIMM, S. L., J. L. GITTLEMAN, G. J. RUSSELL & T. M. BROOKS (1996) Extinction rates — response.Science273: 297.

RUSSELL, G. J. (1998) Turnover dynamics across ecological and geological scales. Pages 377–404 in Biodiversity Dynamics: Turnover of Populations, Taxa and Communities (M. L. McKinney and J. A. Drake, eds.). Columbia University Press, Columbia, NY.

RUSSELL, G. J., T. M. BROOKS, M. L. MCKINNEY & C. G. ANDERSON (1998) Present and future taxonomic selectivity in bird and mammal extinctions.Conservation Biology12: 1365–1376.

FUKAMI, T., C. R. ZIMMERMAN, G. J. RUSSELL & J. A. DRAKE (1999) Self-organized criticality in ecology and evolution.Trends in Ecology and Evolution14(8): 321.

LOCKWOOD, J. L., G. J. RUSSELL, J. L. GITTLEMAN, C. C. DAEHLER, M. L. MCKINNEY and A. PURVIS (2002) A metric for analyzing taxonomic patterns of extinction risk.Conservation Biology16: 1137–1142.

RUSSELL, G. J., O. L. BASS & S. L. PIMM (2002) The effects of hydrological patterns and untimely, breeding-season flooding on the numbers and distribution of wading birds in Everglades National Park.Animal Conservation5: 185–199.

FERRAZ, G., G. J. RUSSELL, T. E. LOVEJOY, P. C. STOUFFER, R. O. BIERREGAARD & S. L. PIMM (2004) Rates of species loss from Amazonian forest fragments.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA24: 14069–14073.

RUSSELL, G. J., T. M. REED, J. M. DIAMOND & S. L. PIMM (2006) Breeding birds on small islands: island biogeography or optimal foraging?Journal of Animal Ecology75(2): 324–339.

ADENEY, J. M., J. R. GINSBERG, G. J. RUSSELL & M. F. KINNAIRD (2006) Effects of an ENSO-related fire on a tropical forest bird community in Sumatra. Animal Conservation9(3): 292–301.

HARRIS, G. M., G. J. RUSSELL, R. I. VAN AARDE & S. L. PIMM (2008) Rules of habitat use by elephants (Loxodonta africana) in southern Africa: insights for regional management. Oryx 42(1): 66–75.